2023 marks the third death anniversary of Kobe Bryant. The NBA legend died in a tragic helicopter accident that claimed the lives of his daughter Gigi and seven others onboard. The tragedy triggered an outpouring of shock, sadness, and tributes, and the Philippines was no exception. The PH was Kobe and Laker country for most of his storied career, and Bryant would return the love with seven visits between 1998 and 2016.
This special bond included a Malacanang visit, scrimmages with local athletes, and talks about the never-say-die attitude that endeared The Black Mamba to the underdog mentality of Filipinos. We speak for everyone when we say that the loss of Kobe felt like that of a loved one. Few managed to ingrain themselves in the local culture as deeply, so what better way to honor his memory than by looking back at his greatest moments?
We asked a few Filipinos for their most memorable moments of Kobe Bryant, and they shared them here.
Fave Kobe Bryant moment: “His ‘4 AM rule’ and hustle + work hard culture”
Kobe shared Jordan’s obsession with being the greatest, so it was no surprise that he had an insane work ethic. There are many stories about his dedication to training, especially from contemporaries like Lebron and Tracy McGrady. One of his most well-known is his ‘4 AM rule’ in high school, wherein he would wake up in the wee hours to squeeze in more sessions than the average person.
Kobe says this habit caused the skill advantage he later enjoyed over his peers. Looking at the championships and MVP accolades, we can’t argue with the results.
Fave Kobe Bryant moment: “Scoring 60 points in his final game. Sure, the game was meaningless and his teammates kept feeding him the ball, but it was still amazing.”
Did Kobe’s final game against the Utah Jazz matter in the grand scheme of the 2016 NBA Season? Not really. Was it awesome as hell? You bet it was. That historic performance encapsulated what the Black Mamba stood for as a player: a high-volume, physics-defying shooter that knew how to be clutch. Fun fact: he would end his career with the thing he’s constantly criticized for: assisting on a basket.
Fave Kobe Bryant moment: “Winning the 2010 championship has got to be the sweetest thing”
As a die-hard Kobe fan, I had to share my sentiments. Listing Kobe’s most incredible moments would be like doing my college thesis: seemingly never-ending. But my all-time fave has got to be the redemption chip against the Boston Celtics that avenged the 2008 Finals loss.
It was Kobe proving that he could triumph against a storied rival, win one more without Shaq and that he deserves to be in the conversation as the greatest Laker ever. I remember how entranced I was at the TV for that nail-biting series, seemingly unable to function, which hasn’t happened to me again.
Fave Kobe Bryant moment: “The fake on Matt Barnes”
This highlight is minute in comparison to the scale of The Black Mamba’s career, but one of his badass moments was when he didn’t bite on a fake inbound pass by Matt Barnes. And for those who doubt its validity with arguments about angles, etc, Barnes himself has acknowledged the incident, which is as legit as it can get.
Fave Kobe Bryant moment: “Squashing the beef with Shaq”
Was it fate that Shaq and Kobe managed to end their beef before the latter’s passing? Probably. But the most dominant duo mending fences in an interview was enough to turn even the manliest of hearts to mush. There’s something about two legends sharing war stories, regrets, and mutual respect that hits us right in the feels. It becomes even more impactful when Shaq tearily acknowledges the importance of their reconciliation on the day of Kobe’s passing.
These are just a few of the stories that Filipinos hold dear to their hearts whenever they think about Kobe Bryant. The greatness of #8 and #24 are forever immortalized in the annals of Philippine basketball, and it is unlikely Filipinos will share the same level of love for any foreign athlete ever again.
Rest easy, Kobe.